Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘coping

Long Haul

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One-hundred years ago today the woman who became my mother was born. Elizabeth Jean Elliott grew up during the Great Depression and as an adult served in the US Naval Reserve WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. She raised six kids. She knew about the long haul.

I wonder what she would think today about the way people are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic.

It’s hard to grasp where we are on the curve of the immanently approaching viral outbreak, both in terms of the risk to lives and the fragility of people’s financial well-being.

There have been comparisons to both the Depression and WWII. While some talking heads are trying to convince the citizens that we’ll get over this in a matter of weeks, health experts are struggling to prepare people’s mindset for disruptions that could last months.

Obviously, in the attempt to avoid the sharp exponential rise in cases that would overwhelm our healthcare resources, officials are trying to accomplish restrictions that will flatten that curve to a level the hospital workers and facilities can support. If that wise goal is achieved, the flatter curve becomes a wider curve, meaning a longer duration.

This past week has been a mind-numbing jumble of stressful routine disruptions that felt like it lasted twice that duration. If one week of having our lives drastically upended was this exhausting, how are we going to deal with months more like it?

Mom would know.

I’m pretty sure she was one to practice the philosophy of taking things one day at a time. She had a way of presenting a mental preparedness for the worst possible outcome while maintaining a hope that it might end up being better than that.

It’s a philosophy I am trying to apply to the oncoming mud season. Our snow is gone except for a couple small remnants of piles that were created when I plowed the driveway. Actually, I’ll miss those when they’ve completely disappeared because they happen to be a great place to clean the mud from my boots before going back into the house.

Our front entry is a cruddy disaster between dirty boots and muddy paws umpteen times a day. (I’m pretty sure I picked up “umpteen” from Mom.)

The trails in the woods are teetering on being unusable where the mud is so ferocious it threatens to keep a boot that steps into it. Yesterday afternoon and evening we received enough rain to take things to level-two messy.

I fear the month of April is going to be a long haul in more ways than one.

Stay home and space out.

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Written by johnwhays

March 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

It’s Like

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It’s like one of those days when you are enjoying a fresh bite of an incredibly delicious meal and your teeth suddenly chomp on your own flesh.

It’s like the time lost waiting for a page to load, watching the progress bar fill to the last little bit where it pauses for far too long before finally jumping to a page that announces the failure to load and suggests the possibility the page has moved. Really? My gmail site has moved?

It’s like the umpteenth time of settling down into a reclined position and then discovering your reading glasses were left somewhere far out of reach.

It’s coming to realize that you can’t remember what it was like when you didn’t need reading glasses.

It’s that second time you bite the swollen wound on the inside of your lip from two days before.

It’s like that moment when screwing in the last of twelve screws to secure the cover of something you just fixed and finding there is one last part remaining to be reinstalled.

It’s like that feeling when re-reading your own business email message included in a reply sent by your customer or vendor and finding a writing error that disturbingly undermines your intended message in the first place.

It’s like waking up to shower for work, getting dressed, and heading out the door before discovering there are still two-and-a-half hours left until your alarm is due to go off.

It’s also like the day you embraced the ability to overcome the chemical reaction unleashed in the brain by these uninvited incidents to frame them in the grand scheme of things as not deserving more than a moment’s chagrin.

It’s like the chemical rush of endorphins that cascade on the first scrumptious bite of your all-time favorite deep-dish pizza pie.

It’s like the rich appreciation possible when pausing to count privileged blessings for all of the times when web pages load without hesitation, a soft chair or warm bed is available for reclining, reading glasses are at the ready, you wrote just the right message in a business communication, and you got a healthy, full night’s sleep.

With practice, we can choose to determine what each of life’s foibles are like for us.

Make a healthy choice!

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Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Please Stop

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Just make it stop. Please.

When I stepped out of work yesterday, this is how my car looked:

It was snowing again, perfectly timed with the beginning of the afternoon drive. Lovely. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

My commute home started well enough, considering the low visibility and slippery road surfaces, but in short order, progress slowed to stop-and-go, rolling along at a snail’s pace. That tedious speed lasted for more than an hour, during which I enjoyed a deep meander through my prized digital music collection on my phone.

With little in the way of driving decisions required, my mind was free to pay greater than normal attention to the music of my memories that was flowing from my car speakers. It served as adequate distraction from how extra-long the commute was taking, until the flow finally opened up and vehicles started moving at dangerous speeds again.

Somehow, I was able to steer clear of the two lunatics who were unsatisfied with the reasonable movement in the left lane and decided to race ahead in other lanes to cut back into the left again, disrupting everyone’s safety. One of them chose to cut off me, without the courtesy of a turn signal.

The other picked a driver who chose to “fight back” with a classic road rage tactic of “tit for tat,” racing ahead to cut back in front of the first jerk.

No problem, it gave me a chance to slow down even more to grant them plenty of space to take their grudge well ahead and away from me.

Beyond those two scares, the only other challenges of disaster I narrowly avoided happened to be three separate incidents of police and highway patrol cars precariously parked to protect vehicles that had crashed and spun out.

It took me twice as long to get home, but I did arrive without calamity.

Shortly after, the falling snow stopped, and the sun even appeared for a couple of brief glimpses before setting.

I’m going to visualize this as having been the last snowy drive I will suffer for the rest of the season. To help start this new run of luck in my favor, my goal this weekend (like it was on Tuesday, last), is to simply avoid driving my car at all over the entire weekend.

Here’s hoping I achieve that humble objective.

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Written by johnwhays

February 15, 2019 at 7:00 am

Making Do

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It’s a struggle down here in Florida, coping with all this convenient weather for strolls in the sun and nights out on the town, but we are making do.

Cyndie was behind the wheel with Mike holding on for dear life. It looks like they were coming in hot and she stopped just in time, but she was actually about to back out for an excursion down to the bocce courts.

Cyndie’s mom added a little adventure to that outing by taking a tumble, and somehow, which even she can’t explain, cut her leg severely on a metal rake used to maintain the courts. Expert response by bystanders, including some nurses, offered immediate treatment and Cyndie, Fred, and Marie got to spend the afternoon at the clinic where a doctor stitched the deep gash.

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Walking the grounds we saw some remaining toppled tree stumps from hurricane Irma last summer.

Fred and Marie took us out for a night of music and food, keeping the genre a secret to surprise us with the perfectly suited personifications of Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, and CSN&Y.

The fact that there are snowstorms battering the ranch at home while we are gone is making this all the sweeter, and only slightly causing me to fret over how things are going for Mckenna.

I didn’t leave instructions on how to start the Grizzly to plow. It’s not in her job description.

She’ll just have to make do.

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Written by johnwhays

February 24, 2018 at 8:34 am

Prevail

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persevering
epidemic
illness
becoming
pandemic
bullying
racism
greedy
misogyny
immature
narcissist
sad
Russia
bots
manipulating
fear
reality
gender
fluidity
religious
pomposity
exclusivity
origin stories
many
fighting
viciously
same
difference
borders
wars
hunger
vengeance
terror
evil
weapons
children
schools
faces
books
hapless
impotent
politicians
money
media
hype
glaciers
melting
permafrost
methane
CO2
now mercury
too
flooding
hurricanes
typhoons
heat
fires
species
extinction
death
grief
unending
forest
bathing
breathing
deep
slowly
coping
hoping
humans
love
somehow
endures
caring
sharing
lifting
hands
planting
plants
feeding
trees
diversity
equanimity
heartfelt
wholeness
common
sense
truth
leadership
creativity
potential
belief
optimal
health
discovery
helping
each
soul
persevere
and ultimately
prevail

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2018 at 10:53 am

Not Logical

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For all the changes we have put in place since moving to this property in the fall of 2012, there are still plenty of things that we have left the same. One of them is totally illogical if you know anything about my penchant for clearing snow with almost neurotic precision.

The sidewalks from the driveway to the front and back doors of the house have a layer of river rock and stone slabs on top of the original smooth cement, providing an attractive rustic appearance.

We love how they look, but I gotta tell ya, they are the absolute worst when it comes to shoveling snow. It is illogical that I have kept them through the years, don’t you think? But here’s the thing: earlier in my life I would not have tolerated the difficulty of sliding the shovel to clear snow, yet in our time here, I have overcome that need for perfection.

It is unquestionably a hassle to shovel, but I have devised a technique that works well enough to get the job done. Basically, I turn our shovel over and sweep the snow out into a pile I can toss away.

The most significant thing about this really is that I have decided to accept it as not being a problem. It’s not logical.

That’s something of a milestone for me.

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Written by johnwhays

February 14, 2018 at 7:00 am

Just Thinking

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I tried thinking and thinking but no thinks ever came to me. Where did they go? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, because with an absence of thinks, comes a propensity to not care. At least, I don’t think I care, if that’s what it’s like to not think any thinks.

What I mean is, I don’t care that I can’t think of any stories to write.

The other day I found myself telling Cyndie that I felt an urge to be preparing for a new expedition. Obviously, life with animals and 20 acres is its own expedition, but I think I was longing to escape to some other remote adventure.

I would not be surprised if this were a way I am manifesting my grief. Escape.

Conveniently, today I have an opportunity to begin planning for one of my favorite annual adventures. Today, registration opens for the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week. My adventure awaits.

It is not lost on me that one of the things that I love the most about the Tour of Minnesota is that I don’t need to do much thinking throughout the week. The route is determined and mapped in advance for us, the camping locations are established, the meals are set.

I just show up to ride my bike, and go with the flow.

No critical thinking required.

I think I can manage that.

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Written by johnwhays

February 1, 2018 at 7:00 am